Surrounded by eager children and parents, 72-year-old John Ivory is raring to get his pony cart moving. Over the last four years he has given free rides (astride and by wagon) to more than 750,000 youngsters on his 140-acre tract 30 miles outside Detroit. "Money? I'd be cheating if I took money," says Ivory, a moving-business executive. "It's fun for me. Ponies and kids go together."
In the years after World War II, Ivory poured a million dollars into polo promotion in Detroit, but could not make it popular. So he decided to offer pony rides to children and develop his own polo fans. Though the free rides were an immediate hit, polo itself did not catch on as quickly.
Undaunted, Ivory simply offered more pony rides. Nowadays he employs five men full time to handle some 60 ponies, hires five additional men for weekend crowds. He has cleared more than 250,000 trees from his property, built more than six miles of winding trails. Moreover, he will send his wagons anywhere within a 50-mile radius of Detroit for civic or charitable functions.
Even winter does not slow down John Ivory. He hitches up specially built sleighs and provides a bunk-house with open fireplaces. Says Ivory proudly: "The kids come streaming in just like it was mid-July."